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A Police Chief’s Choice: The Statue or The People

“Serve the people first and our honorable work will always have meaning.” - Guest Blogger Police Chief (Retired) Chris Blue

One of the toughest times in my career came on the heels of one of the easiest decisions I ever made.

As in many communities in the South, a confederate monument had stood at the doorstep of our local University for close to 100 years when, on the first day of the fall semester, August 20, 2018, anti-monument demonstrators successfully pulled the monument down.

I’ve heard it said that Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody's watching. But my preferred definition says that Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. I will add that Integrity is best revealed (or discovered) in the face of personal challenge. August 20, 2018 was a challenge for me both personally and professionally.

In the weeks leading up to that day, we had seen flyers suggesting that something was going to happen that night. While it certainly wasn't clear that an attempt to take the monument down would occur, the social media traffic and the flyers that were popping up around town suggested that we could expect a large event. So, we did a large-scale callback, incident plan, and set up for what we imagined would be a long night.

Around 7PM, many hundreds of people marched down our main street then onto the University campus, encircling the monument, and began working to loosen the monument so it could be pulled down a short time later. The group was extremely well-prepared and organized and the police officers were severely outnumbered.